Everybody has something they think others should be more concerned about. For some, this comes in the form of fighting impending tax cuts ? or encouraging them. Still others lead a struggle against the violation of human rights. The latter?s effort has been particularly noticeable at UR.Although students voice their opinions on human rights, something has been lost in the mist ? expressed concern about the environment. Even at UR, the editorial pages of the CT have been filled with issues like the relative efficacy of student government or the oppression of rights of various minorities, and absent of any sort of environmental discourse. Simply put, have the activist and political energies of our nation and university been captured by movements fighting for the welfare of human beings ? including racial, gender, and sexual equality movements ? at the expense of worrying about the entirety of life on earth? I hope not ? I think people do care about the environment. I have never talked to someone who thinks that polluting or not recycling is good, but conversely, I rarely observe people taking an extra two seconds to properly dispose of their recyclables. Furthermore, it is common to see refuse in the recyclable cans that does not belong there. This is unfortunate because the efforts of others who try to recycle are then wasted due to requirements about contamination of recyclable materials. But while everyone says they want a cleaner environment and future, few actually do something about it. Ask yourself, when the last time was that you made sure that you printed double sided at CLARC or held on to your empty soda can until you passed a recycling container ? or when was the last time you encouraged someone else to do these things?One of the problems in getting people to be more environmentally friendly is that everyone benefits from another individual?s efforts. In the parlance of economics, environmental quality is non-excludable, and thus it can be to your advantage to let someone else contribute to environmental quality while you enjoy the benefits of their efforts. Overcoming this collective action problem is difficult and so occasionally government intervention is warranted. Efforts made at the international level necessitate a proactive national government. Unfortunately, we are left with an analog of the collective action problem when we consider things on this scale. A single country would be better off letting other countries pass stringent emissions requirements while allowing excessive pollution themselves. The logic here is similar to the collective action problem ? that the industries of nations with lower regulations can produce goods more cheaply, an advantage they privately enjoy. The pollution they produce effects everyone else, but the environment doesn?t follow political boundaries.Under this rubric, and I never thought I would say this but George Bush seems to be acting ?rationally? according to rational choice theory. While Bush?s father, and Clinton even more so, recognized the importance of a US led fight against global warming, Bush?s decision not to go through with the Kyoto accords ? a campaign promise, mind you ? leaves the burden of preventing global warming and the further depletion of the ozone layer to other countries, especially European nations. Why would any other country cut its pollution output if the world?s largest polluter, the US ? both per capita and at the aggregate level ? refuses to cut theirs? Our current economic growth is not simply accompanied by prosperity, but responsibility as well.The Bush Administration is unlikely to take responsibility as long as it is in the pockets of companies like Enron ? a Texas based power company that is Bush?s largest single campaign contributor and staunch advocate of less restrictive regulations. Where is the pressure to get Bush to change direction on this issue going to come from? Hopefully Earth Day this year will provoke some of us to think about our action, or inaction, in a reflective way. It is high time for Americans to act locally, while forcing our national government to act globally.Tingley is a senior majoring in political science.

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